Col. Theodore S. Westhusing

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Colonel Theodore "Ted" S. Westhusing was a West Point lecturer on ethics with a doctorate in Philosophy focusing on the meaning of honor in the context of a soldier. At the age of 44, he volunteered in late 2004 to go to war in Iraq. He was deployed in January 2005 and tasked with overseeing Virginia based US Investigations Services efforts in training a corps of Iraqis police in special operations. He was found in his tent in June 2005 dead by an apparent self inflicted gun shot wound to the head.

Westhusing had initially arrived in Iraq optimistic to be of honorable service to the operation. The months preceding his death were shaped by a changing perspective of the conduct of the company he was overseeing and a shift he saw from the military virtues of homonr, duty and country to an atmosphere motivated by profit.

He communicated as much to friends and family via email. In addition, he made known his uncomfortableness not only with the high salaries some of the contractors were receiving, but also his own cozy relationship with USIS management.

His shift in perspectives seems to have begun in April 2005 when expectations in training operations had fallen short. He received an anonymous letter a month later detailing alleged misconduct by USIS. The first alleged violation claimed USIS had purposely shorted the number of trainers from operations in order to increase profits. This would be a violation of their contract and security risk for the intentions of the operation.

Secondly, the letter claimed a contractor had led a group of Iraqis trainees in the assault on Falluja in November of 2004, and upon returning had bragged about personal kills. This would be a very serious violation of the role of contractors in military engagements and would put USIS' contract at risk.

Westhusing alerted USIS and his superiors resulting in an investigation. The initial results of the investigation found no proof to the claims, but officials have stated the investigation is still ongoing.

After this, however, Colonel Westhusing's demeanor had changed. According to those around him and recipients of emails, he had become withdrawn, fidgety, and even expressed feelings of fright.

On June 4th, 2005, Colonel Westhusing left the Green Zone for USIS' headquarters at Camp Dublin to witness a demonstration by Iraqi police preparedness. He stayed overnight and attended a meetig the next day in which he expressed "uncharacteristic" agitation. After the meeting he was found in his tent dead with a note that read:

"I cannot support a msn [mission] that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars. I am sullied. I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. Death before being dishonored any more."

The Army investigation concluded that the death was a suicide but family and friends are not convinced. For one, they are troubled that this occurred at Camp Dublin where he was without a bodyguard. They also contend that Colonel Westhusing simply would not have committed suicide, and with no history to suggest otherwise, it certainly seems an unlikely answer to those who knew him.

He is the highest ranking officer to have died in Iraq.

Source: T. Christian Miller, A Journey that Ended in Anguish, LA Times, Novemeber 27, 2005